Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish, N.S. celebrates her win in women's 200 metre individual medley at the swimming finals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, Friday, Sept., 12, 2008.    Photo by Mike Ridewood/CPC

Chelsey Gotell: From the pool to the front office

Gold medallist relishes opportunity to continue involvement with Paralympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Nine years after winning Parapan Am gold in the pool in Rio, Chelsey Gotell has returned in a much different role for the Paralympics.

No longer an athlete herself, the 12-time Paralympic medallist and five-time Parapan Am medallist is giving back to a new generation of Paralympians as Vice-Chair of the Paralympic Committee Athlete Council.

The Antigonish, N.S. – native is a great resource for all of Canada’s Paralympians because of her wealth of experience and success in international competition.  Now that she’s experiencing the operations side of the Games, Gotell has learned a lot in her new role. The decorated swimmer has a greater appreciation for everything that goes on at an event with the magnitude of the Paralympics.

“Being an athlete is pretty exceptional and being able to compete for your country is not something that everyone gets to do and to wear the maple leaf I’m so proud to be Canadian,” the three-time Paralympic gold medallist said at the Olympic Village.

“But you learn a lot on the operational side of things and what it actually takes to organize because as an athlete you come in and it’s very seamless and everything is perfect, but on the staff side you’re the one doing all the grunt work to make sure that everything is seamless.”

The 30-year-old cannot wait to see the look on all the first-time Paralympians’ faces when the opening ceremony ushers in the beginning of the 2016 Paralympics on Wednesday, something that brings back memories of her first Games at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.

“Everyone’s earned their spot to be here. The work’s been done now and it is just time to let the process happen and know that you have the country behind you,” Gotell said.